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These 7 scenic trains offer the best views of Japan

Here are seven of the very best trains in Japan, from glamorous to panoramic and plain romantic.

Kurobe Gorge Railway

The Japan Alps—the mountain ranges running along the spine of central Honshu (the country’s main island)—have long been the nation’s geographical and spiritual heart, home to shrines and sacred sites, hot springs, and traditional farmers’ villages. A trip to the region is an absolute must, and the Kurobe Gorge Railway is the perfect sightseeing train to set the mood for it.

Originally built in the mid-1950s to serve the construction of the Kurobe dam, the line operates along a winding 12.4-mile stretch that crosses the Kurobe Gorge—one of the deepest gorges in Japan—linking the stations of Unazuki and Keyakidaira. On the 80-minute ride, guests can take in views of rugged mountain landscapes and steep cliff sides, a forested ravine and the gurgling Kurobe River, as they traverse more than 20 bridges and some 40 tunnels. Different stops along the way offer plenty of opportunities to go for a hike or, why not, stop at an open-air onsen.

Tickets start at $18 (or 2,610 yen). Be aware that the train operates seasonally from late April through November, and it’s most popular in October, when the fall foliage turns the hillsides into a tapestry of reds and yellows. If you go then, bring a jacket: most of the cabins are open-sided.

Gonoline ran to side of the Sea of Japan. Vehicle Transportation Train Watercraft and Vessel

Gono Line

Running along the western coast of the Aomori and Akita Prefectures in northern Japan—a region brimming with wild nature and volcanic mountain ranges—the 91.5-mile Gono Line is an important route for residents of the area.
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